Tag Archives: Sewing

Patchwork Denim Whale Jacket

Long time no update! But I have a few old makes to share and lots of plans for new makes so hopefully I’ll be around a bit more this year than last year!

A while ago, at the beginning of the pandemic when I was furloughed, I sewed a bunch of pairs of jeans (have a look at my archive page for deets). This means I ended up with lots of denim scraps. I decided I wanted to make a patchwork denim jacket from these scraps. I was mostly inspired by Raph on the Sewing Bee when they did the reduce, reuse, recycle week and he made a patchwork denim dress with a whale on it.

The jacket went through a couple of iterations – at one point I was going to try to make a picture from the denim, but my skills are not good enough for ‘painting’ with fabric! But then like a lot of the world I watched the first series (and there has since been a second) of Young Royals on Netflix and became a little obsessed with this jacket that Edvin wore a good few times. And it was like destiny! I did buy a pair of white jeans from a charity shop to help break up the blues.

I decided to use the Friday Pattern Company’s Ilford Jacket pattern (which I made once before for my brother in law) and I made the chunks of patchwork according to the size of each pattern piece, so I didn’t waste as much fabric by making one massive sheet of patchwork! The below is the back. I cut random pieces and just tried to assemble them in a way which meant no 2 pieces of the same colour were next to each other. I did have 2 quite dark blue denims but they look a tiny bit different.

I actually finished this jacket at the end of 2021 and never got around to photographing it. Oops. Anyhoo. This is how it turned out. And I LOVE IT!

I did the patch pockets and chose fabrics based on what would contrast in each section they belonged in.

I did both sleeve plackets in white, but the cuffs in different colours, again based on which colour would contrast best on each sleeve. I did the basic construction and then cut out the cuffs and pockets. I also underlined the whole things because there were SO MANY SEAMS on the inside!

At this point you may be thinking ‘where is the whale I was promised?’. Weeellll…..

I didn’t necessarily intend to copy the whale from Raph’s dress but I’ve always loved whales, ever since I did a project on them since I was in the Brownies! I especially love blue whales. Because they’re the biggest! So my whale is based on a blue whale. Seems fitting colour-wise too!

As you can hopefully tell, I also cut the collar in 2 different colours and added seam allowance so that it would be super contrasty and I actually really like it as a design feature.

This was a stash only make, which seemed in keeping with the idea to use up my scraps. The buttons were in my stash – I feel like I took them off a rtw garment at some point but I don’t now remember when or from what. The fabric I used for the underlining was the leftover fabric I used to line my By Hand London Victoria coat hack.

I have worn this jacket a good few times (when it’s not quite as freezing as it is this week in Britain, brr!). I even got a compliment when I went to the Shakespeare Birthplace museum in Stratford Upon Avon – one of the tour guides told me she loved my style and my jacket specifically. I love getting random compliments from people – I want to try to do that more myself, because who doesn’t want to be told something nice?!

I don’t know if you can really see (I forgot to take a close up photo, sorry) but the whale has a little eye. I used a tiny bit of the black denim and zig-zag stitched all around the edge. It might be my favourite detail. And now I’m just going to spam you with loads of photos. Sorry not sorry.

Some homemade Christmas Presents

At the end of last year I was doing some (last minute, of course!) sewing of 2 Christmas presents for my brother in law and my aunt. I made my brother in law a linen Ilford Jacket. When I lived with him and my sister last Summer, he mentioned that he would like a worker-type jacket for fulfilling his full Monty Don style vibes. I didn’t get around to making it before I moved out and then I thought making it as a surprise for Christmas would be a nice idea. Thank you to my sister for sneaking around and measuring his clothes so we could figure out what size to make.

I made the size large so he would definitely have room for a jumper underneath – his measurements were kind of between the medium and the large. I lengthened the sleeves a little (can’t quite remember now by how much, maybe 7cm?). The sleeves did end up a little long, but I think they look kind of good rolled up. The fabric was linen & cotton mix in the colour denim from Fabric Godmother and it was a dream to work with.

Because the Ilford is an unlined jacket pattern, I decided to bias bind all of the seams on the inside to make it look nice, and be more durable (as linen can fray quite badly). This was the first time I’ve done this technique and it was pretty time-consuming, I have to admit! I made the binding from the same fabric so that added to the time. But I’m honestly so pleased with how it turned out that I don’t regret the extra time I put into it. And I always kind of feel like if I make something for someone else, it has to be more ‘perfect’ than if it’s for me – I’ll still wear makes with little mistakes, but I don’t want someone I’ve given something to to feel like a mistake annoys them when they wear the garment, or they don’t want to wear it at all (even worse!).

I added a bunch of the square pockets and a pen pocket, and did the non-placket sleeves. The Ilford is kind of a modular pattern so you can mix and match various details to your own taste. I had actually sewn the pattern before, for myself (though I haven’t got around to sharing it here yet) and I’m glad I didn’t just dive in making this one without knowing roughly how the jacket came together. Having said that, the instructions are great and there are extra video tutorials for some of the steps if you’re more of a video-learner than a text-learner (I find I need a combination, depending on how complicated the technique is).

The second gift I made, for my amazing Aunt, was Helen’s Closet’s Sam Apron and thankfully she loved it! I asked what she would like for Christmas and she said an apron – I had no idea that she likes aprons and uses them all the time, and therefore needs a few on rotation for when they’re in the wash (she may or may not be getting a new apron for every Birthday and Christmas from now on!). The pattern is excellent and free, btw!

Sorry for the lack of photos, I was making it so last minute that I wrapped it as soon as it was off my machine and then thought ‘doh, I didn’t take any pictures’. The fabric is, of course, the Strawberry Thief by William Morris. It was too late to order fabric online and make sure it arrived by the time I decided to make the apron so I went to John Lewis in Oxford and was pleasantly surprised to find this gem! I don’t usually use John Lewis for fabric as I think it’s overpriced for the quality but needs must.

Can you spot the pocket below, btw?

Blurry photo to demonstrate the completely invisible, pattern matched pocket – I was pretty proud of myself, I have to admit. Pattern matching has never been my forte and I had only just enough fabric to make this work but I’m so glad it did!

The Sam pattern also has loops to hang your tea towels through – genius! I also love an apron because there are no fastenings!

It’s been a few years since I made any Christmas presents, I think, and I actually enjoyed it this year – I actually did start the jacked in plenty of time and I had a whole weekend to cut out and sew the apron so it wasn’t quite as last minute as it could have been. I think for me only trying to do a couple is going to be the way I do it from now on – trying to make things for everyone is where madness lies! Unless you start in, like, March I guess….

Did you make any Christmas presents this year or do you not like the pressure?

Refashioned Shirt (again!)

Ages ago (in 2016!) I refashioned this dress:

into this tunic-y top:
(wow, that is a dead-eyed smile, huh!?)

I still really really love the fabric but the style of the tunic meant I wasn’t wearing it at all. I’m actually often pretty ruthless with my wardrobe, even stuff I’ve made/remade, and have regular clear-outs but this one kept surviving the cull because of the fabric. So over the Summer when I wasn’t working, I figured it was a perfect time to refashion it again into something I will actually wear – and I already wore it 3 times before it got a bit too chilly for short sleeves.

(I should have waited for nice weather and taken these photos outside, sorry!)

The third iteration of this garment is still maybe a little long, but the shape is the more boxy silhouette that I find I’m more drawn to these days. The original refashion was kind of based on the Deer and Doe Bruyere (who remembers when that pattern was new?!), with a nipped in waist, a waistband and pleats above and below the waistband.

This time around I removed the waistband, unpicking the button bands on both sides as far up as I needed to – in neither of these refashions have I had to sew new buttonholes, winning! I removed the pleats and sewed the top to the bottom, without the waistband this time. I did have to trim the bottom half to get it to fit the top half as I think there were deeper pleats on the bottom the first time (which makes sense, to go over my bum and hips).

I then sewed the button bands back down and sewed the buttons back on – easy! It took way longer to unpick the previous alteration than to sew the new version.

As with the Summer dress I shared last week, I’m now waiting for it to be warm enough to wear this. I think it’ll get lots of wear in Spring and Summer as it has all my favourite colours in and will go with lots of things in my wardrobe!

Have you ever refashioned a refashion? I wonder if I’ll do this one again – full on refashion-ception!

An (Almost) Zero-waste Summer Dress (in November)

So I’ve got a little backlog of posts to share, hence me sharing a Summer dress in November…

I made this dress quite late in the Summer so I didn’t actually get a chance to wear it out and about so I’m counting down until next Summer so it can get a proper outing – because I love it! I’ve kind of stopped wearing dresses for the last couple of years, but especially when it’s really hot, they’re really nice and comfortable so I need to remind myself of this next year!

The pattern/instructions I used were the Daisy DIY Gathered Rectangle Dress. You use your own measurements to make the dress to fit you. It’s similar to the Maya Dress that I made for my sister to wear to a wedding. I was also slightly restricted with the amount of fabric I had.

Can we just talk about this fabric for a second?! I had it in my stash for quite a while, waiting for the perfect project, and I’m so glad I waited as I think this was perfect to show off the pattern. I bought it in a destash from Sarah of Like Sew Amazing because I was drawn to the retro print and the amazing colours! I had to do some brain work to figure out how best to centre the pattern because the fabric was relatively narrow and the pattern was totally centred down the middle of the whole length.

So in case you’re interested, my pattern pieces were the following dimensions:
Top front and back 42cm x 20cm
Skirt: 75cm x 90cm (two)
Straps: 95cm x 5cm (two)
You also cut lining pieces of the front and back, to sandwich the straps between, which in my case I cut in 2 pieces, from the outside of the main pieces, so that the outer front and back were centred on the fabric, if that makes sense? It didn’t matter for the lining pieces to have a seam down the middle as…it’s the lining so no-one’s going to see it!

I would definitely recommend this pattern/ these instructions as once you’ve got your brain around the size of the pieces you need, it’s really quick to sew up as there are no fastenings, which is always a win in my book! And there isn’t anywhere as much gathering as on the Maya dress, double win!

This dress wasn’t quite zero-waste, but I’ve kept the offcuts and will hopefully be able to use them for pockets or something on a future project. Have you made any zero-waste (or nearly zero-waste) clothes? I really enjoyed both of the Daisy DIY tutorials I followed, as you can more easily tailor them to your own wishes, rather than having to do formal adjustments on a full paper pattern.

My Last Pair of Ardens (for now….)

Today I’m sharing with you my final pair of Arden Pants I made over the Summer. I think I’m done (for now) making Ardens, but I’m definitely not saying never again, since I love wearing them and if I find some great fabrics in the future I would definitely make some more. Anyway, here is the final pair. I made a YouTube video of me making them so if you’re scared to tackle this pattern (though you shouldn’t be as the instructions are excellent), then you can sew along with me.

Here are a whole bunch of photos! I made the size 6, as with all my other pairs, with a 6cm hem and no other changes.